Catholic Charities and the Victim Card

I've briefly commented on Catholic charities in previous blog posts, but would like to focus the discussion in this post on charities that 'play the victim card' and distort issues relating to 'forced closings.' For example, Catholic charities within the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C. threatened to close doors because of a civil union bill that was proposed. Catholics, in this incident and many others, claim that the government violates their religious freedoms and insist that religious exemptions be appropriated. When governments fail to meet the Catholics' demands, charities close their doors, claim that they wanted to continue services, and blame the government for the closing. All of this, of course, is a giant smokescreen.

It might be easy here to jump on the no true scotsman bandwagon and claim that a charity that discriminates is not really a charity. Is this a fair claim? While many charities specialize in particular areas, many offer their services to the communities they serve without discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Some/many Catholic charities, on the other hand, believe that letting homosexuals adopt children or providing services to homosexuals is advancing the 'homosexual agenda,' doing a disservice to children, or approving of the 'homosexual lifestyle.' Is this very charitable for a charity? If a charity is concerned with the welfare of children and neglects to let persons adopt children just because he/she is attracted to members of the same sex, the charity is not really 'being all it can be' and is more concerned about a dogmatic ideology than the welfare of children. It is, of course, be very reasonable to refuse adoption services to persons who aren't fit to care for children, but it's not the case that persons are unfit to care for children because of their sexual orientations. If charities are really concerned about children, they should allow homosexuals to adopt; doing otherwise is not what a charity should be in the business of doing.

If a charity really wants to operate under a dogmatic ideology, it can still operate, but it can not justifiably complain if they receive government funding and then don't want to 'follow the rules.' Receiving government funds comes with 'consequences' and expectations. Regardless of what principles the charity may hold, it still has to follow the law. If a group wants to, for example, exclude itself from providing services to homosexuals, they can do so by not taking government money and operating as a private charity. A group can't possibly, though, complain about governmental regulations if they take the money - if they don't want to follow the rules associated with the money, don't take the money.

This recent article, "Illinois Catholic Charities Forced out of Adoptions over Homosexual 'Rights'" reflects much of what I have been saying. This article immediately starts this distortion with its loaded title and makes the Catholic charities sound like victims of a government which doesn't 'respect' their beliefs. Notice the use of the word 'forced' in this title. The charities weren't forced to close at all, but rather DECIDED to close because they wanted to exclude providing services to homosexuals even though they accepted government money.

Commenters in this article try, as I previously mentioned, to convey the message that since providing services to homosexuals is required for the charities to recieve money, there is a violation of freedom of religion. This, though, is an outright lie. Charitable groups are free to run charities that are consistent with whatever beliefs that have, but in order to receive governmental funding, they need to play by the rules. To further understand, imagine a religion that only included males and thought that women were inferior. Members of this religion decide to start a charitable group and receive governmental funding under the condition that they don't discriminate against people. Later, after receiving funding, the group complains when the government threatens to stop funding them because they won't provide services to women...and then claims that the government is violating their religious freedoms. Both situations are absurd. Why should religious charities get special exemptions while secular charities must play by the rules? There is no abridgment to freedom of religion when a government fails to fund charities that fail to provide services to homosexuals or fail to offer special exemptions.

The real victims of charities closing are not the charities, but rather the people who would benefit from services that are done a disfavor by the discriminating charities, not the government which declined to give money to the religious charities. If a charitable group wants to discriminate against certain individuals, they simply should not accept governmental funds...and they can't justifiably accept government funding and then make themselves look like victims when the government ceases funding them. If a charity accepts governmental funds, they must play by the rules.